(A woman and child wearing protective masks are seen crossing the street in Manhattan’s Chinatown in New York)[Getty/Kyodo]
WASHINGTON – The U.S. capital on Monday issued an order to residents to stay at home except for essential needs, joining other local authorities in the country that have taken similar steps to address the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government of the District of Columbia has already been urging residents to stay at home and ordering the suspension of non-essential business activities, with gyms and retail clothing stores, for instance, closing.
The order, effective Wednesday, “reinforces the mayor’s direction to residents to stay at home except to perform essential activities,” the capital’s authorities said in a statement.
Residents may only leave their homes to obtain food, other necessities and medical care that cannot be provided through telehealth, as well as to work at essential businesses and engage in essential travel. They may face a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both, for violations.
Two states surrounding the capital — Maryland and Virginia — also issued stay-at-home orders the same day.
The move comes as the United States continues to see a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the state of New York one of the hardest-hit.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that deaths in the state have exceeded 1,000, with more than 66,000 infections. All nonessential workers in the state have been directed to work from home.
At least 30 of the 50 states in the United States now have stay-at-home orders, according to a tally by CNN. Those states have over 225 million people — more than two-thirds of the country’s population, it said.